Thursday, February 25, 2010

Second Thessalonians, Chapter Two

1 ¶ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
The word, Rapture, is not in the Bible just as the word, Antichrist, is not found in the book of Revelation. However, we have Biblical phrases like “our gathering together unto him”, which explain the idea of the Rapture very well. This phrase is not a reference to His return to rule the earth, to stand on Mount of Olives;
Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
This is about something different than His physical return. We are going to first be gathered together unto Christ.
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Those of us who are not grounded in the word and in the proper way to understand the word of God by fearing God, believing every word is from God, by humility and meekness toward the word, by prayer for instruction, by desiring to obey the word, by meditating on memorized scripture, and by reading it over and over again are easily shaken by some thought, by a sermon, a TV preacher or one on the radio, or even a book because we, not being grounded, simply aren’t sure of what the Bible says.
In recent times, say from 1800 onward, we have heard so many preachers twist the Bible’s plain message to present their own message, wrenching verses out of context, and doctrinally ruining their value to us, that we are able to be fooled by almost anyone. I heard a preacher once say, good preaching isn’t necessarily good doctrine but I disagree now. I believe for preaching to be good it must be doctrinally correct and not confuse the hearers.
But don’t be shaken. Paul is about to lay the money on the barrel. He’s about ready to end this thing with some hard statements.
3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
How does the Bible define “falling away”?
Jeremiah 37:13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.
Now, ask yourself, what does “falling away” mean? Examine the way people who believe the Bible are treated, not by unbelievers, but by other so-called Christians? What does falling away mean other than simply betrayal, joining the other side or going over to the enemy? Is it not clear what is happening right now and has been happening progressively since the liberalism of the early 1800’s?
Every war and the increased militarization of our society has lowered the standard of Biblical literacy and morality in America. The Christian church in America is an apostate, violence loving, Bible denying Church awash in carnality and a worship of the profane, EVEN in worship.
Who is the “son of perdition”?
Jesus says in John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Where did this “son of perdition” go?
Acts 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
What does the phrase “his own place” refer to? Hell? Or is it a place where he has dominion.
1Samuel 5:11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
2Samuel 19:39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
When you read Revelation, think carefully on this.
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
If the character mentioned in Daniel is the same individual as the Beast of Revelation then notice some other traits he has.
Daniel 11:36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
Now, historically, this would be one of the inheritors of Alexander’s dominions but prophetically many people view this person in Daniel as the Beast, only they will refer to him as the Antichrist, a word never used in Revelation. It is found in John’s letters as a spirit that denies Christ came in the flesh. It more appropriately lines up with the Gnostic Christian sects of then and now that denied Christ’s humanity or that He was really here in the flesh. Still, the Beast is a type of antichrist, he is an antichrist, he’s the baddest antichrist, so therefore, calling him THE Antichrist is reasonable.
1John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
But, back to the text, we see that there has be a temple again, which was destroyed not many years after Paul wrote this. So, that hasn’t happened yet. Although if you go to it is planned by some. The Beast will demand worship.
Revelation 14:11 and other verses make it clear that the Beast demands worship and that you are to worship his image, as well. We can speculate that that is a statue, robot, or a picture on a TV or computer screen but he claims to be God. Perhaps, the Jews will think this is their long awaited messiah, God in the flesh. Maybe he’ll land in a spaceship. Maybe, like the offspring of the sons of God and women he’ll be very tall, like the characters in the movie, Avatar. He’ll perform miracles. Keep this in mind as you read and study Revelation.
Jesus warns in Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
I have not quoted verses in Revelation because the book is so full of information I’d have to quote almost all of it. You should have read the entire Bible by now for as many years as you’ve been a Christian, at least. Time to get moving.
Of course, you can’t understand the Bible or be given any light from it if you don’t fear God, believe every word is God’s word, be humble toward it, pray asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and instruction, quote memorized scripture to yourself, and read it over and over again. Try turning off your TV and putting aside your Christian movies and books for awhile and read this.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
Paul had apparently talked to them at length about these things when he was there. Wouldn’t that have been a great experience?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
Now, we come to one of those UH-OH moments, a verse that is as hotly contested as the one where some Christians say strange things like Christian women don’t die in child birth, which is an absurdity. In this verse, something is holding back the appearance of the Beast, or the AntiChrist, if you want to use the common expression. But what is it?
The word, withholdeth, defines the specific meaning of the word, letteth, in the next verse. Let can mean to allow, as we normally use it today.
Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The most common belief among American evangelical Christians is that it is the Holy Spirit, indwelling us, that prevents the Beast, the AntiChrist, from appearing. Some, however, say that the mystery of iniquity, the subject of the sentence, is what is holding the Beast back. Here’s the thinking, and I am not endorsing either side, but just presenting the views. Satan does not know when, any more than we do. Therefore, in every generation he has a Beast prepared from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, to Bismarck, to Stalin or Hitler, if you will, but the time is not right yet. The idea that one evil can hold back another evil until its time is found in the 1922 Lateran Treaty between Benito Mussolini, the Italian Fascist Dictator, and the Pope at that time. The Pope ordered the Catholic party to stand down and not to interfere with Mussolini and he exploded onto the world scene. In 1933 Eugenio Pacelli, papal attorney, signed the Reich Concordat with Adolf Hitler. The Catholic Center party was ordered to stand down and not oppose Hitler. Pacelli eventually became Pope Pius XII, who ignored massacres on his own doorstep, prayed publicly for Hitler’s victory at Stalingrad, and was suggested by some as fit to stand trial for war crimes after World War Two. The famous play, The Deputy, is about his tacit support for Hitler. So, one evil can hold back a greater evil until its time.
However, what makes the most sense, from what we know, is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth and the dispensation of the Law returns. Once the Holy Spirit is gone Satan will have free reign on the earth to which he has been cast down. So, this verse requires some thought and some prayer to understand. We can’t say that the Holy Spirit will be completely gone because God will not be absent from His creation.
Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
So, its wrong to assert that God’s Spirit will be gone from the earth. That’s not a possibility. It is possible, from a dispensational point of view that God could refrain from acting on human beings in certain ways for a period of time. Remember, in the Old Testament the Spirit would come on someone for a period of time but would also leave. In the Church Age we are permanently indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us. When the Rapture occurs, those indwelt by God will be removed, the thinking goes, and the Holy Spirit will not indwell, which is the reason that in the Tribulation you can lose your salvation.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
For a literalist like myself there is a great deal of information in the Bible about this person who is wickedness personified. A simple word comparison on a computer Bible program will reveal a great deal about “that Wicked”. This particular wicked person is the one destroyed by the Lord with His word and with His glory and cast into the Lake of Fire which you will see by reading Revelation.
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
The Beast won’t be a Benny Hinn. He’ll be able to perform many great miracles and produce signs that will convince everyone that he is really the messiah they’ve been waiting for. It will be so obvious that, if you were here, you would be fooled, and all of your Christian friends would be on you about not going along with this great “man o’ God”.
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
If you can be fooled by a preacher who doesn’t raise people from the dead or heal the sick then you certainly could be fooled by one who could. But, until Christ calls us out and then returns in glory there will be no apparition of Him, no visit from a God-man, and nothing but the Holy Spirit that indwells us and this Book to tell us about God. Anyone who claims he has come from God to deliver a message to us is a liar as is anyone calling himself an Apostle, etc. etc.
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
You have to receive Jesus Christ. His salvation is there for you but you have to receive it. Have you ever given someone a gift they wouldn’t accept? Follow the word “received” throughout the Bible to get a feel for this.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
People who go to Hell were deceived by their unrighteousness. Our flesh, this world, and the Devil are full of deceptions and lies. All three, but especially our flesh, hate the truth. Very few people you know love the truth. Most people want to manufacture their own reality. You’ll find it hard to even get people to admit they need a Saviour.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
If a person’s heart is not right with God, their attitude toward God and His will, then reading the Bible can lead to some terrible things. This is the nature of all sorts of cults. We are given certain things in the letters of Paul to the Christian but so many fundamentalist Christians want to appear close to God that they go way beyond what He has told us. Because their heart is not right, God will allow them to go to extremes before He stops them.
Because the world has rejected Christ God has allowed some of our brainiest men to believe in macroevolution, the right to abortion, the right of homosexuals to marry, indeed, even the right of the government to determine what constitutes a marriage, the idea that government can solve all of our problems rather than just being a fair judge, and that war can be a tool for good and not bring down both the winner and the loser morally. God will allow them to worship a human messiah and, yes, even a Devil. He will choose their delusions.
When you choose to reject Christ, even in going beyond what He commands you to do or going in a completely different direction you will have no control over how far sin will take you. Sin is not under your direction. You are under its. The world is believing many lies now and will believe a lie at the time mentioned here. God will choose the lie.
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I don’t see how it could get any easier in understanding than this. Now, people do take pleasure in unrighteousness.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
We need to ask ourselves, by the way, if we have any shred of these things in us or if we take any pleasure in seeing others do these things, even if they are acting on TV or in a movie, before we start railing about how bad other people are. Look the list over and realize its not truthful or consistent with a Christian witness to take enjoyment out of others doing things you are forbidden to do.
13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
This is one of the proof texts of Calvinism but when we read the several verses together speaking of predestination we see that we are predestinated to certain things only after we are saved. In this verse we can safely say that our selection for the saving influence of the Holy Spirit was made by God’s foreknowledge based on our future willingness to believe.
1Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
The Holy Spirit worked on us. Why? Because God knew we would believe and He will lose no one that will believe, so you can safely stop worrying about “the heathen that never heard”. If someone will believe the Spirit will set them apart, sanctify them, and they will be saved. No one will go to Hell who would have believed if you had just told them. You don’t have that power. You declare the gospel because that is what obedience to the gospel demands. Don’t get arrogant and think you saved anyone or that someone didn’t go to Hell because of you. It’s always in God’s hands. You obey, and God will take care of the rest. Don’t obey, and He’ll still do it but you will suffer loss.
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We were called, who were known by His foreknowledge, and we obtained, by His grace, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
We must stand fast in what we’ve been taught by Paul personally, which, of course, we haven’t but they had, or by these letters we’ve been studying. As Christians we spend far too much time trying to figure out what the Law says and not enough time trying to take to heart the simple commands here in the letters written to us as Christians. I guess they aren’t exciting enough for most but Christianity is a workman’s religion. It’s not a big splash sort of thing with fireworks and trumpets and huge choirs singing, not right now. It’s about you day by day implementing the simple instructions given to you by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. The entire Bible applies to you, every verse, but how is the question. In the letters to the Christian churches we find our basic marching orders, though, without question. There should be no argument as to what most of this is saying to us to do.
16 ¶ Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Few of the commentators and preachers I read give this verse enough importance. Think about this. God through His embodiment as the LORD JESUS CHRIST loved us and gave us, through hope and grace, everlasting consolation, a word that carries with it comfort and kindness, and encouragement as well as bringing two opposing parties together. With the Holy Spirit called the Comforter, we have the trinity appearing even here. Remember that Noah had his name because Lamech said he would comfort them in Genesis 5:29.
Genesis 5:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
In this regard we can see Noah, among the many other types he represents, as a type of the Holy Spirit, carrying the other passengers and the saved creatures through the death that overcame the world, leading them out of it. Mankind survived because of what God saw in Noah.
Barnabas was the son of consolation and when John Mark fell short of what was acceptable behavior to Paul, Barnabas restored him to the ministry and gave him value again. You can find this in Acts 15 and reference Acts 13:13 when John Mark abandoned them. John Mark fell and Barnabas restored him as an encouragement to all of us who have let Christ down at times.
17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
This is a wish from Paul for comfort and its important to realize that we are called to good works after we are saved. Good works will flow from the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians, chapter 5, just not, maybe, the kind of good works that involve, “Volleyball for Christ” or a “Jesus Rocks the Republican Party” concert. Paul has made clear over and over what church is to be about. Worship given, needs met, edification, preaching the gospel, telling people about Christ, and comforting the broken hearted and grieving. Is this so hard to understand?

World History, Chapter Eleven, Revised

Yayoi Japanese, India, and China

The Yayoi period in Japan is the time designated between around 300BC to around 250AD and is defined by the apparent development of the practice of growing rice in paddies in fields and it’s – guess what – pottery. You just can’t get away from the reliance by archaeologists on pottery to date a people. With this method you can get dates from as far away as 900BC for the start of this culture. The Yayoi were such an abrupt departure from the previous Jomon culture that it is thought that they represented a separate group of emigrants from the Asian mainland. By the way, according to the English grammar book, “Woe Is I”, it is emigrate if you are coming from and immigrate if you are going to a place.

The dating and character of this culture are, as usual, highly controversial and the theories concerning them are quite tentative. We are told they used crude stone tools and although they used pottery made on a wheel their pottery decorations are cruder than the Jomon. They did not destroy the Jomon people but intermingled with them. Wet rice farming was their primary technological advancement over the older culture.

The first time any Japanese culture is mentioned in Chinese literature is supposed to have been around 257AD in the Chinese history, Wei Zhi. The Japanese were supposed to be a bunch of scattered tribal communities that were mere barbarians by Chinese definition. The Chinese called the Japanese of that time period, the Wa. A political federation in Japan called Yamatai had diplomatic relations with the Chinese Kingdom of Wei between 220 and 265.

The Yamato period follows the Yayoi and begins with something called the Kofun characterized by large burial mounds across Japan. The introduction of Buddhism from Korea around 538AD marks the Asoka period of the Yamato.

Himiko was a famous legendary ruler in the Yayoi period. A woman shaman or witchdoctor, she was supposed to have controlled her people by her supernatural abilities. Some scholars believe her life is mixed in with tales of Amateratsu, the Japanese version of Ishtar, but are unsure. Amaterasu-o-mi-kami is the goddess’ full name which means “Great Goddess Who Shines in the Heavens”. Until World War II the Japanese emperor claimed divinity as the descendant of this continuation of the tradition of Ashteroth, Minerva, Diana, Cybele, Aphrodite, Venus, Ishtar, the Catholic Virgin Mary, etc.

Many scholars claim that rice and therefore, agriculture itself, did not come to Japan until 100BC during this period. Compare this 2,000 plus year lag between the Japanese and the peoples of the Ancient Near East, more expression of the slow but sure outward progression of people from Noah’s landing point. These people, at first, did not clash with the original travelers to Japan, the Ainu, but were trading partners. It wasn’t until


much later that the Japanese began to dominate the Ainu people. The Ainu were not savages as the Japanese histories tell but were probably the islands’ first farmers.

The Kushan empire marks the era of Indian politics in the first few centuries after Christ’s birth. The Kushans, a central Asian tribe related to the Turks, captured Kabul, in what is now Afghanistan and from that city reigned over northwestern India and much of Central Asia. Their greatest king, Kanishka, encouraged the arts and sciences with Greco-Buddhist architecture at its height. Beautiful buildings were erected in Peshawar, Taxila, and Mathura. The famous doctor, Charaka, advanced the art of medicine and religious leaders, Nagarjuna and Ashvaghosha, created the foundation of Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhism which was spread to China and Japan. Kanishka experimented with many religions and many gods but he finally settled on the newer form of Buddhism which made Buddha a god and created many spiritual beings. He, like Constantine, called a great council of Buddhist theologians to create a creed for his kingdoms.

The Gupta dynasty followed the Kushan in the 4th century under the reign of Chandragupta I who is different from the earlier Chandragupta Maurya. His successor, Samudragupta, became one of the most famous of India’s kings. He conquered Bengal, Assam, Nepal, and Southern India and spent the treasure he extorted from his vassal states promoting literature, the arts, science, and religion. He, himself, was a noted musician and poet. His son, Vikramaditya, extended his conquests and was noted for supporting the great dramatist, Kalidasa, who worshipped the god Shiva, known as the Destroyer, Death, Shatterer of worlds.

It was during this age that the Hindu people had religious liberty and great wealth, according to 5th century Chinese traveler, Fa-Hien. The Hun invasions interrupted this golden age as it interrupted Rome’s hegemony over the western world. But, this is for a later class. The famous Historia Augusta, mentioned in the previous class, the collection of biographies of Roman emperors, mentions a delegation probably from the Kushan Empire to Rome. They are called by the Romans, Bactrians and Indians, and their delegation visits Rome in the time of the Emperor Hadrian. The Chinese historical chronicle, Hou Hanshu, also relates the trade between Rome, who the Chinese called Da Qin, and northwestern India. Archaeologists have found a great deal of imported goods in Kushan cities from the Roman Empire.

Kushan India had many contacts with China also and even allied with China on military ventures but this resulted in war and then finally being forced to pay tribute to China due to a squabble over a princess. Buddhist missionaries went to China and then to Japan.

Like Rome, the Kushan empire was eventually divided into an Eastern and Western half and then began the inevitable decline, losing its military conquests and enduring the shrinking of its territory.


In the same era, the first century, there was a split from the Parthian kingdom to form a short lived Indo-Parthian kingdom which was absorbed into the Kushan kingdom in less than a century. Another political entity was known as the Western Kshatrapas, who ruled parts of Northern and Central India after defeating the Sātavāhanas. They were eventually conquered by the Gupta dynasty which followed the Kushan.

From 208 to 226 is the time of the rise of Ardashir of Sassan in Central Persia. He subdued his neighbors in the area of Persepolis and in a series of campaigns climaxed by the bloody battle of Ormuz in southern Iran, he established the Sassanid Empire. He then seized the Parthian capital at Ctesiphon and declared himself the successor of the Persian dynasty of Cyrus and Darius found in the Bible. Their dynasty was called the Achaemenid Dynasty by historians. He conquered parts of Central Asia, most of Darius’ Persian domains, and Afghanistan but was thwarted in the west by the weakened but still powerful Rome. He demanded that Rome withdraw from all of their Asian provinces and when this demand was ignored he invaded Syria and Armenia, which was ruled by Chosroes, a Roman puppet. Some raiding parties of his army reached Antioch and the Cappadocian Mountains in the area of present day Turkey. This Roman-Persian war ended by mutual consent after very little was accomplished but the return of Rome’s Middle Eastern provinces.

Ardashir’s son, Shapur, then went on to have two wars with Rome beginning in 241 which ended in his being driven from Rome’s provinces in 266 by Odaenathus, a Romanized Arab, prince of Palmyra. Persia continued to be a power in the region until Islam’s rise and constantly presented a problem to Rome until a treaty in 390 between Theodosius of Rome and Bahram IV of Persia.

In Africa and Arabia the power of Aksum waxed between 200 and 400 until the Sabaean revolt in Northeastern Yemen by the Jews living there weakened Aksumite control over southwestern Arabia. The king, Ezana, contributed a great deal to Aksum’s power by extending control over southern Arabia, Somalia, and Ethiopia from 320 to 325. He also helped Christianize the region. In 350 an Aksumite expedition sacked Meroe and destroyed the ancient Kushite kingdom.

From a scientific side of things, we find the physician Charaka, in India, presenting ethical standards to be required for those caring for the sick, including purity, cleverness, kindness, good behavior, and competence in cooking, as apparently he felt that these things needed to be standardized. This was around the year, 100. At around the year 400, slightly after the time frame of this particular class, it is said that the Indian physician, Susruta, describes plastic surgery operations for earlobe deformity, skin grafting, and rhinoplasty or nasal reconstruction.

With regard to the arts, in the 100’s, Sanskrit drama, with both religious and secular themes began to appear in India and flourished for the next thousand years. In the 200’s


Indian dramatist, Bhasa, writes what are called verse dramas including the famous “Dream of Vasavadatta”.

In the America’s, about the year, 200, the Mayan culture of Central American entered its classic phase of art and architecture. The preclassic period, according to Martin and Grube’s ‘Chronicles of the Maya Kings and Queens’, begins in or around 2000BC and runs into 250AD with the Mayan culture becoming more complex as they were influenced by the earlier Zapotec and Olmec cultures. But, it is the classic period, given by some scholars as starting around 200 and some around 250 that concern us here. Mayan civilization reached its greatest height in the period between 250 and 900. We will go into it later but at the height of its cultural accomplishments there were more people living in the Americas than in Europe and Teotihuacan, with a maximum population of well over 125,000 people, was larger than any city in Europe at its height.

The Mayan used hieroglyphic writing with over 500 signs, 300 of which having been thought to have been deciphered by now. They had a sophisticated calendar with 3114BC being the date for the creation of the world. Converting this highly sophisticated calendar into Christian chronology was a key task for early scientists. This correlation is and has been done using astronomical observations. The classic Maya had a complex and refined royal structure with political leaders combining the state and the power of the gods just as ancient cultures across the Atlantic. The union of the church and state was the basis of Mayan culture as it was in Babylon, Assyria, or Rome, indeed, in Europe even until the last century. It appears to be the direction in which mankind is headed again.

Royal succession was male dominated and queens only arose to prevent the loss of a dynasty. The Maya were very ceremonial and ritual oriented people with many rites of passage, particularly for royalty, including a bloodletting ceremony. A king’s life was dominated by ritual and performance. One of these was the act of erecting large stones which may have been significant in recreating the creation of the universe. Death was viewed as the beginning of a long journey and, as in Egypt, the kings were laid in well built tombs. Ancestors were deified.

The understanding of Mayan politics in the classic period has been helped by large archaeological finds and many inscriptions and much is understood, it is thought, about kingship and statehood. Remember, for all mankind, the primary concern throughout history politically has been who rules and who is ruled. Outside of self-justification, self-gratification, self-preservation, and self-propagation this is the foremost concern of mankind, not God. Mayan kings were called “Lord, Ruler” and although, its specific significance in Mayan politics is not yet known, it appears that what passed for legitimacy in leadership must have some kind of connection with Teotihuacan, the great city. Archaeologists have always been divided as to whether or not the Mayan were dominated by several small city-states or large states consisting of smaller divisions. Much of the most recent scholarship acknowledges that the Mayan culture consisted of small city-states. I think of this for comparison like the city-states of Canaan or Greece.


There were “overkings” which showed that some Mayan kings were more powerful than others and were paid a higher degree of respect. The ruins at Tikal, which at its height, housed more than 60,000 people, claimed a dynastic succession of at least 33 kings spanning an 800 year period but it fell under the power of Teotihuacan in the 4th century. After a “dark age” it grew in importance again in the 7th century.

Tikal’s classic dynasty begins with Yax Ehb Xook which scholars have translated into English as ‘First Step Shark’ and his reign is in the first century. The next recorded king that has been discovered ruled between 100 and 280 and his name was ‘Foliated Jaguar’ who is followed by ‘Animal Headdress’. In the period between 305 and 308 we have a character scholars call Siyaj Chan K’awiil I aka ‘Sky born K’awiil’. As we approach the time of Constantine’s council of Nicea we have a queen named Lady Une’ B’alam or ‘Baby Jaguar’, a name she took from a local goddess of Olmec origins. The next figure that can be based on evidence found is K’inich Muwaan Jol or ‘Great-Sun Hawk Skull’.

The great lord, Siyaj K’ak or ‘Fire Born’ entered Tikal on January 31, 378AD and took over its administration for Teotihuacan. The death of Chak Tok Ich’aak, then ruler of Tikal, and his entire male lineage on the same day was no coincidence and a new line of Tikal kings drawn from the ruling house of Teotihuacan itself took over. The Mayan lowlands were now completely under the control of the Mexican highlands and its great religious center.

Teotihuacan, founded in the first two centuries before Christ was born was a huge city by ancient standards, as I have said previously. It was basically a city devoted to religion and in the ancient world; religion and politics were indivisible entities. Until its sudden collapse in the 7th century, possibly as the result of the great plague that swept the ancient world, it was the dominant force in MesoAmerica or Central America. Its main thoroughfare was the Avenue of the Dead which ran for more than a mile. The Sun Pyramid, approximately 150’ high was located at the east end of the Avenue of the Dead in the northern part of the city. It is a step pyramid with a temple on top. The Pyramid of the Moon which dominates the Plaza of the Moon is at the extreme northern edge of the city and, like the other buildings in the city, scholars are still analyzing the data found as many of these places have only recently begun to be extensively uncovered.

The Feathered Serpent Pyramid has been one of the most studied of the structures in Teotihuacan and I find it’s title and what that title represents to be quite interesting in light of these Bible verses, Isaiah 14:29, Isaiah 27:1, Revelation 12:9, & Isaiah 30:6. The temple there is also known as the Temple of Quetzcoatl, although the language from which that name derives is not thought to be the language of the city at its height. Many comparative mythologists claim that Quetzlcoatl is the same god as Zeus and we already know who Zeus is from the writings of Herodotus and the statements of Jesus Christ. Here, in Central America, at the time of Christ, we have a temple and a city devoted to the worship of Satan, the great enemy and adversary, the great counterfeiter of all that God has done. As one student of comparative mythology has stated without even truly


understanding what his statement means, “Quetzalcoatl is to the New World what Christ is to Europe: the center of a religious cosmology and the pre-eminent symbol of the civilized nations of Mesoamerica. Both were considered to be men who ascended into heaven upon their death; Christ to sit at the right hand of God, Quetzalcoatl to become the Morning Star. Both were tempted by evil powers; Christ by Satan, Quetzalcoatl by the wizard-god Tezcatlipoca. And both were prophecied to one day return to earth, Christ as the Prince of the Kingdom of Heaven, Quetzalcoatl as a god-king returned to claim his kingdom in Central Mexico. To understand the life and teachings of Jesus Christ is to understand Christianity, the root religion of what we refer to as Western Civilization. To understand the life and mystery of Quetzalcoatl is to understand the religious thought of what we call Mesoamerica.”

Perhaps, the “Beast” of Revelation will appeal to all religions as their great hero come back to claim his kingdom, the first “messiah” to show up in the future being the wrong one. Whatever the case, it is food for thought.

The name of the city which dominated Central America in the first few centuries after Christ, Teotihuacan, means “city of the gods”. Let us keep in mind that the central focus of the practice of Satanic religion, from Mexico to Scandinavia to Canaan, is human sacrifice, wars of conquest, and torture, particularly of a deviant nature. This is undisputed and historical fact, from the skeletons found in the pyramids in Teotihuacan to corpses found in bogs in Northern Europe to the babies thrown into the superheated arms of Baal in Carthage, Satan wants man’s blood, while God has sacrificed His own (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12; 13:12; Revelation 1:5).

Further south, in Peru, another culture has been dated by a study of their pottery. The Nazca have mystified scholars by the finding of lines drawn in the ground in the area thought to be their region of influence and even as far south as Northern Chile’. These lines are visible as drawings of fish, birds, a whale, spiders, monkeys, and plants and are only visible from the air. Their purpose is unknown. Some scholars, however, believe that the drawings had some meaning associated with their economic system and social rankings. Others, of course, insist that they are religious in nature. There are many earthworks around the world that are all that is left of earlier cultures which are a mystery to modern scientists. For instance, there is the Silbury Hill mound in Wilthsire, England. The Great Serpent mound of Ohio, and under the present countryside of Glastonbury in Somerset, England there is supposed to be a vast network of gigantic figures forming a sort of primitive zodiac. There are huge chalk figures in Southern England, the best known of which are the White Horse at Uffington in Berkshire, the Cerne Abbas Giant of Dorset, and the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex. Some scholars think that at least a few of these monuments to dead cultures had an astronomical importance as, perhaps, did Stonehenge, also in England.


But, the belief that the Nazca lines could only be seen from the air and that the Nazca could not have seen the final result may have been overthrown by the work of the International Explorer’s Society of Miami, USA. Having understood a legend of the Incas, who conquered the area in question a thousand years after the Nazca’s disappeared, to say that a boy named Antarqui helped the Incas in their battles by flying above enemy lines and reporting on their positions they set about to prove that the Incas, at least had the use of observation balloons.

Of particular interest were the plain pieces of fabrics found in Nazca tombs. When tested by a modern balloon manufacturing company they proved to have a tighter weave than the fabrics the company made themselves. The ancient Peruvians were known to have made some of the finest fabrics in the history of the world but this amazing discovery led them to build a balloon called the Condor I made from cotton and wood with a gondola of reeds to hold the passengers. It was filled with hot smoke from burning extremely dry wood. Do not try this at home. This might have been what the burn pits found at the end of many Nazca lines were for and on November 23, 1975 two men ascended 380 ft. and landed safely. It doesn’t prove that the Nazca flew but only that they could have.

The Nazca culture in Peru existed from around 300BC to around 800AD.

Across the Pacific, the era opens up with Buddhism coming to China in 67AD. In China, just as a side note as we were discussing Teotihuacan, human sacrifice was practically unknown after the collapse of the Shang dynasty. Events of note in the later Han dynasty in this period included the Rebellion of the Yellow Turbans, a Taoist uprising, against the tyranny of what is called the Later Han Dynasty. This occurred in the 180’s AD. Taoism is the religion founded by Lao-tze, the old master, several hundred years earlier. This rebellion resulted in the poet Ts’ao Ts’ao rising to power and leaving his son as the first Wei emperor in 220. The period of the Three Kingdoms begins, during which China is split into three separate kingdoms: the Shu (221- 264), the Wei (220-265), and the Wu (220-280).
Ts’ao Ts’ao is worthy of note because many sources say he is the most favorite figure of Chinese folklore and in real life was a brilliant general who saved Northern China from chaos as the Han Dynasty was collapsing. The origins of Ts'ao Ts'ao are fuzzy since his father was the adopted son of a powerful eunuch. This meant that the Ts'ao family was a rich one, but newly rich, and of questionable lineage. An unruly and wild youth, Ts'ao was greatly pleased when a famous judge of character predicted that he would be "an able public servant in a world at peace, or a crafty, deceitful hero in a world at war." The world was at war, one of the bloodiest China had ever seen, and Ts'ao Ts'ao threw himself into the battle in 184, helping to quell the rebellion of the Yellow Turbans, the so-called T'ai-p'ing (or Taiping) Rebellion, that was to serve as a prototype for similar popular uprisings for two millennia.

Through the influence of his father and in recompense for his actions, Ts'ao Ts'ao rose in rank. When the empire was threatened by Tung Cho, a brutal warlord who captured the Emperor and burned the capital, Ts'ao fled to the provinces, where he raised his own troops to fight, ostensibly to save the Han Empire from total destruction. The next 20 years of his life were years of anarchic fighting among his warlord enemies. In 200, at the battle of Kuantu, Honan, he defeated Yüan Shao; and after continual battles against the Yüan family, Liu Piao, and the Wu-huan, Ts'ao became the sole power in the North.
In 208, another famous battle, at Ch'ih-pi on the south bank of the Yangtze in Hupei, showed he could not defeat his combined enemies in Wu and Shu. The end of his life was spent in consolidating his hold on the North, by far the most important part of China, becoming prime minister in 208, Duke of Wei in 213, and Prince of Wei in 216. At his death on March 15, 220, he had still not taken the imperial title. This his son, Ts'ao P'i, did, becoming the first emperor of the Wei dynasty on Dec. 11, 220.
Ts'ao Ts'ao's importance was hotly debated in China in 1959. Whatever Ts'ao's attitudes toward the common people were, whether "progressive" or "reactionary," it is a fact that he made intelligent use of military agricultural colonies (t'un-t'ien) near his capital, in which soldiers were set to farming unused farm land, reorganized and reused taxes, and by the repopulation of the vast areas that had been devastated by the unceasing wars--he succeeded in bringing peace and prosperity to North China and reestablishing a unified empire. His policies for appointing men "only by their talent" in an attempt to strengthen the central government, by ignoring the new real powers in the land, the rich regional landowners, ultimately were doomed to failure, but his disdain for Confucian tradition helped free intellectuals and paved the way for a renaissance of thought and literature.
Ts'ao Ts'ao himself was a powerful poet and prose writer. For many Chinese, however, Ts'ao Ts'ao remains the archvillain of history, immortalized in the novel San-kuo chih yen-i (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms) as a crafty and unscrupulous usurper.
In 265 The Western Chin Dynasty begins when the Wei Kingdom absorbs the Shu, and then, later, the Wu (280). It lasts until 316, after a period of civil tension added by the enlistment of barbarian forces leads to internal decay. A condition of unrest unfolds for the next two hundred years as remnants of the old empire fight against invading barbarians.

Now, let’s back up to the introduction of Buddhism into the Chinese culture for a moment. The form of Buddhism that came to China was not the thoughtful agnostic Buddhism of Siddartha but the superstitious paganism that developed in later times. Although there were elements of true Buddhism and its benign neglect of gods and deities, the form of Buddhism that came to China introduced such things as faith healing, hypnotism, autosuggestion, and meditation arts as components of medical practice. As


Durant states when talking about Buddhism’s introduction to Japan in the 500’s, and I quote from page 833 from his first volume in ‘The Story of Civilization’ entitled ‘Our
Oriental Heritage’, “ was not Buddha’s Buddhism that came, agnostic, pessimistic and puritan, dreaming of blissful extinction, it was the Mahayana Buddhism of gentle gods….and personal immortality.” When referring to the introduction of Buddhism to China he says on page 786, “..the Buddhism that began its migration to India from China in the first century after Christ was not the hard and gloomy doctrine that the Enlightened One had preached five hundred years before; it was no ascetic creed, but a bright and happy faith in helping deities and a flowering paradise; it took the form, as time went on, of the Greater Vehicle, or Mahayana, which Kanishka’s theologians had adapted to the emotional needs of simple men; it presented China with freshly personal and humane gods, like Amitabha, Ruler of Paradise, and Kuan-yin, god-then-goddess of mercy; it filled the Chinese pantheon with Lohans or Arbats – eighteen of the original disciples of Buddha – who stood ready at every turn to give of their merits to help a bewildered and suffering mankind.”

While the Roman emperor Constantine was creating the state church of Rome based on a nominal Christianity and while that apostate version of the Christian faith was beginning to count on things never mentioned by Christ or even intimated by His apostles but constructed out of thin air for the purpose of validating the state-church set-up and anesthetizing the spiritual desires of the people, the very same thing was being done in China and India with regard to the religion of Buddhism. My comments should not be misconstrued as being an endorsement of or lending credibility to the satanic counterfeit of Buddhism in that Buddha can not save you and never promised that he could but merely offered another atheistic philosophy for mankind (understanding that an agnostic is an atheist who is too much of a coward to admit it). But, it is only to say that there is a theme running through history and Satan counterfeits God in certain ways and then counterfeits the counterfeit leading his victims further and further down a road of thought from which it becomes harder and harder to depart.

On a lighter note, in the 100’s, the Chinese figured out that magnetic silver, allowed to turn freely, always points north-south. Also, at that time it was discovered that dried Chrysanthemum flowers can kill insects so they invented a powder that was the world’s first known insecticide. Integrated pest management begins in the 300’s when His Han records how to use specific types of ants to control other insect pests attacking Mandarin oranges.

The inventor, Tsai Lun devised paper, produced cheaply from wood, rags, and other substances containing cellulose (as opposed to Papyrus in Egypt made from a reed or parchment made from animal hides). This great discovery did not reach Europe until 1320. Contrast these discoveries with the superstitious Taoist, Chang Tao-ling composing a guide to charms and incantations to cure disease. Notice that while this was going on the Greek physician, Galen, was dissecting animals and applying the results to human beings, sometimes mistakenly, but affecting western medicine for 17 centuries. Soranus


of Ephesus was writing on gynecology, obstetrics, and infant diseases as well as describing rickets, defined by the online American Heritage dictionary as “A deficiency
disease resulting from a lack of vitamin D or calcium and from insufficient exposure to sunlight, characterized by defective bone growth and occurring chiefly in children.”

But, the Chinese, not to be outdone in the development of early sciences, in 185, noted that they observed a supernova in the constellation, Centaurus, for 20 months. They calculated Pi to five decimal places between the time that Ptolemy was writing on trigonometry in 140 and Diophantus was working on the beginnings of algebra in 250. Then, a breakthrough is made in China that puts them far ahead of the game by man’s emphasis. In 270, Wu dynasty alchemists manufacture gunpowder from sulfur and saltpeter. They never got around to using it as effectively as the West did; for the purpose of mass murder.

Next, we will begin with Rome, after the Council of Nicea up until the plague that swept the world, wiping out old cultures and giving newer ones the opportunity to conquer what had before been unconquerable.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Second Thessalonians, Chapter One

1 ¶ Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
Paul is thankful that their faith is growing greatly, exceedingly. He also makes one of the more clear statements about charity as between Christians, which puts a clearer light on 1 Corinthians 13 which is important to leave as the “charity” chapter rather than the “luuuvvvvv” chapter because I believe the initial direction is to how we are to treat each other. Let’s read it but keep in mind it as referring to a Christian’s attitude toward his or her brothers and sisters.
Now, consider the importance of this statement by Jesus. How do people know that we are his disciples, not according to Jack Hyles or Billy Graham?
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Our faith breaks down because of two great failings on our part; ingratitude and a lack of care or love for other Christians. We can talk about our heart for the lost all day long but if we neglect the needs and necessities of other Christians we make a sham of our faith. A vibrant, successful church helps its poorer brethren.
Where are all the Christian Pastors and congregations created by American and British missionaries over the last hundred years? Why do we need to spend thousands to send middle class American families to foreign mission fields when we can support native pastors. All we need is to prove that they are real and genuine and are doing God’s work. It might take $3,000 per month to support an American family living in Botswana but for a sixth of that, a Botswanan church could be helped mightily. I’m also not saying to make them dependent on you and not self reliant and dependent on God’s providing but to help our poorer brethren. Does this not make sense to you rather than each generation doing what Paul said he would not do, building on another man’s foundation?
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 ¶ Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
We don’t have a whole lot of persecution and tribulation to suffer in America, thanks to our founders desire to keep the government from dictating religious dogma and in total opposition to so many religionists who want to make either the government an arm of the church or the church an arm of the government.
But persecution is a sign, a token, of God’s judgment and our willingness to endure it shows that we can be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. If you notice in Revelation, the only church that is not criticized in any way, and is called rich, is the suffering church of Smyrna.
Revelation 2:8 ¶ And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Like it or not, Christian, God is looking for people who are willing to go all the way for Him, even to the point of sacrificing property, family, or life. Many Christians around the world are showing themselves more worthy each day by their willingness to suffer, while we sleep in the lap of comparative ease and luxury. When American Christians suffer its usually for just being a pain in the neck at work or in our family and has nothing to do with our manifesting of the fruits of the spirit and people hating us for envy and for Christ’s sake.
6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
God will deal with those who persecute you and those Christians in Myanmar (Burma), the Sudan, or any place else where they are being abused; God will repay those who have harmed them.
Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Luke 6:27 ¶ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Now, tell me, guys, if this is easy for you to live by, seeing as the manly thing to do is to bust someone in the chops when they disrespect you and, mothers, tell me if you could hold back if you felt that someone in authority was verbally abusing your child for being a Christian? Could you adopt the attitude of the Amish people when the shooter killed their children a few years back, one of forgiveness and Christlike humility? Most of us can’t. We’re ‘mericans. By golly, we’ll shoot you if you mess with us.
Better pray about your attitude. The powerful Christian church is a martyr church. Read the application to Smyrna again. We always talk about “are you a Philadelphia church?” Well, are you a Smyrna church?
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
We will be in that number, when Christ returns with his angels. Angels are an appearance of someone; either of God;
Zechariah 12:8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
A man:
Revelation 21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
Or something else such as a church as Jesus has John write directly to the angels of the seven churches in Revelation. Angels are spirit beings and these angels are the appearances of those who have been taken out of the earth before the Tribulation. They are mentioned here;
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
You are and will be part of that number if you have trusted in Christ, part of the armies of heaven.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Foretold in ancient prophecy as in the Song of Solomon as His bride.
Song of Solomon 6:4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
Song of Solomon 6:10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
You can read in Revelation 19 of how His conquest of the earth will be. It’s also possible that in Joel, particularly chapter 2 there may be references to this. The following are some interesting references that I think are linked to this verse.
2Samuel 22:9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Job 41:19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
Psalm 18:8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Jeremiah 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Habbakuk 3:4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
Acts 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Those people who are destroyed, who have hated God through Jesus Christ, will spend eternity in a lake of unquenchable fire. They will not be in His presence nor will they experience His glory. What people don’t realize is that, even for those who don’t acknowledge God, He gives them many good things, things that make life not only possible but bearable. Without God, their suffering will be unimaginable.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
There will be no morning sun to warm their faces, no cool breeze to cool their skin, no beautiful sunset to please their souls, but only horror and agony and hatred, spewing curses from parched lips forever in a lake of unquenchable fire. This is mankind’s destiny without Christ’s mercy.
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
At that point everything in history will clearly point to the Lord Jesus Christ as being the center point, the focal point of history. Those that believe will look on Him lovingly, glowingly, and with joy. Paul points out how that this is partly made possible because we believed in the early Christians testimony as it is passed down from generation to generation.
11 ¶ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul prays that the Thessalonians might be counted worthy of “this” calling, their future destiny with Christ, by fulfilling God’s good pleasure and by their powerful faith. Paul wants to see the name of the Lord Jesus Christ glorified by their lives and the reverse is also true, that by God’s grace the Thessalonians should be lifted up.

Latest Reading

Icons of Evolution, Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong, by Jonathan Wells, Regnery Publishing, Washington, 2000. This book, by a scientist holding Ph.D's from Yale and the University of California at Berkeley, points out how most of what is taught in textbooks about evolution is either a misrepresentation or an outright lie and in spite of proof, teachers are continuing to teach these icons as fact. It is amazing. Title Blog Entry Icons of Evolution, Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong, by Jonathan Wells, Regnery Publishing, Washington, 2000. This book, by a scientist holding Ph.D's from Yale and the University of California at Berkeley, points out how most of what is taught in textbooks about evolution is either a misrepresentation or an outright lie and in spite of proof, teachers are continuing to teach these icons as fact. It is amazing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

World History, Chapter Ten, revised

Temple Destroyed to Constantine

“Tribulation ten days” (Revelation 2:10) and the kingdom of heretics

Trajan, the first Roman Emperor born outside of Italy reigned from 98 to 117. He was born in Spain. He dealt with a revolt in the province of Dacia, present day Romania and Moldova, called the Dacian wars, from 101 to 107 which is memorialized by “Trajan’s column” in Rome. Great leaders do not memorialize or glorify their defeats and disasters in monuments but only their successes. Let this be a lesson to you when you can not find a monument in Egypt dedicated to the loss of the Pharaoh and all of his army in the Red Sea at the Exodus. It would be ludicrous to expect to find such a monument.

The apostle John had written his book about the end of human history in or around 96 under the reign of Domitian. The early church leaders who studied under the apostle believed these events to be future but the doctrine of Preterism, elaborated under Jesuit priest, Luis De Alcazar, in his 16th century work, Investigation into the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse, states that all of these events were past events that occurred at the fall of Jerusalem. By claiming that pagan Rome was the kingdom of the anti-Christ and that Nero was, indeed, the Beast, it was hoped to divert attention from the widespread Protestant belief that the Papacy was the very anti-Christ spoken of as the Beast in Revelation. (The word, anti-Christ, is not found in the book). The Apostle John’s students, those who claimed to have studied directly under him, were Polycarp, who was stabbed and his corpse burnt at the stake in Smyrna in 167 and Papias, martyred in or around 135, among others. We learn a great deal about what the original writings of the apostles contained by reading the many quotes of the early church leaders, commonly called “fathers”. John, who lived part of his later life, as a convict on the island of Patmos, had instructed many of these early leaders in what Jesus had told him, as they claimed.

For instance, in the Authorized Version of the Bible, translated in the early 1600’s with its release being 1611 after a 7 year effort, we find the verse 1 Timothy 6:10 which states in part; “For the love of money is the root of all evil”, and we find that Polycarp, writing his letter to the Philippians in the early second century, in the very first line of Chapter IV, entitled ‘Various Exhortations’ refers to this exact quote. The over 30,000 quotations that the early church leaders cited of the writings of the Apostles are a big help to understanding our Bibles and how they came to be.

The view of Revelation of the early church leaders was that it was future history or a prophecy of future events. This is called futurism today but in the first three centuries of the Christian era it was known as Chiliasm, or Millennialism, stating the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ would return to rule from earth for 1,000 years between human history’s end and eternity’s beginning. There is another view called historicism that states that these events have unfolded over the past 2,000 years, as well. There are, as well,


many variations of all these beliefs such as partial preterism. But, these, while great subjects of theological debate, are only relevant in their historical sense, to be mentioned
as movements and beliefs that affected the Christian church, in some way. I have oversimplified all of these beliefs and anyone who is a diehard proponent of one or the other would accuse me of demeaning their belief system so let’s move on for the purpose of this study.

Chiliasm, the early belief by the church fathers concerning the end times would produce statements by Shepard in 150, who refers to the church being saved from the tribulation to come, Victorinus in 240 referring to the rapture of the church, Cyprian in 250 referring to the rapture, and the most extensive work on millennialism by Ephraim the Syrian in the late 300’s in his work, On the Last Times.

I am including some quotes of the writings of early church leaders regarding the end times in the way they viewed them. I have used the website and its online edition of 38 volumes of the writings of the early Christian church. First, specifically, in regard to the church being taken out of the way;
Shepard 150 AD
• The writer, after escaping a huge terrifying beast with four colors on its head (white, red, black and gold), met a virgin in his vision. "like a bride going froth from a bride-chamber, all in white...I recognized from the former visions that it was the church." the virgin explained that she escaped destruction from the beast (the Great Tribulation) because of God's special deliverance. "Thou hast escaped a great tribulation because thou hast believed and at the sight of such a huge beast hast not doubted. Go therefore and declare to the Elect of the Lord His mighty deeds and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation which is to come. If ye therefore prepare yourselves and with your whole heart turn to the Lord in repentance, then shall ye be able to escape it, if your heart is pure and blameless." After explaining to him that "the golden color stands for you who have escaped from this world," the virgin concluded her messages with, "Now ye know the symbol of the great tribulation to come. But if ye are willing, it shall be nothing."
Victorinus 240AD
• Commentary on the Apocalypse 6.14 - "'And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.' For the heaven to be rolled way, that is, that the Church shall be taken away. "And the mountain and the islands were moved from their places." Mountains and islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed, seeking to avoid the persecution."

• Commentary on the Apocalypse 15.1 - "And I saw another great and wonderful sign, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is completed the
indignation of God.' For the wrath of God always strikes the obstinate people with seven plagues, that is, perfectly, as it is said in Leviticus; and these shall be in the last time, when the Church shall have gone out of the midst."
Cyprian 250 AD
• Epistle 55 - The Antichrist is coming, but above him comes Christ also. The enemy goeth about and rageth, but immediately the Lord follows to avenge our suffering and our wounds. The adversary is enraged and threatens, but there is One who can deliver us from his hands." It is significant that he did not write about enduring the persecution of the Antichrist. Rather, Cyprian promised that Christ "is One who can deliver us from his hands."
• Cyprian Speaking of the immanency of the Rapture, he wrote, "Who would not crave to be changed and transformed into the likeness of Christ and to arrive more quickly to the dignity of heavenly glory." After telling his readers that the coming resurrection was the hope of the Christian, he points out that the Rapture should motivate us as we see the last days approaching. Cyprian says that "we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible." Referring to his hope of the approaching Rapture, he encouraged his readers as follows: "Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?" Cyprian concludes his comments on the translation of the saints with these words: "Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom" (Treatises of Cyprian - 21 to 26?).
Ephraim the Syrian 373 AD
• On The Last Times 2 - ...because all saints and the elect of the LORD are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and be taken to the LORD...
Now, with regard to their looking for a future fulfillment of prophecy as found in the apocalyptic books of the Bible;
Papias 70-155

• Fragment 6 - After the resurrection of the dead, Jesus will personally reign for 1000 years. He was taught this by the apostle John himself.
Justin Martyr 110-165
• Dialogue 32 - The man of Sin, spoken of by Daniel, will rule two times and a half, before the second advent.
• Dialogue 110 - The man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us, the Christians.
Irenaeus 178 AD
• Against Heresies 4.26 - Daniel the prophet says "Shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of consummation, until many learn, and knowledge be completed. For at that time, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things."
• Against Heresies 5.25 - In 2 Thessalonians the falling away is an apostasy and there will be a literal rebuilt temple. In Matthew, 24 the "abomination spoken by Daniel" is the antichrist setting in the temple as if he were Christ. The abomination will start in the middle of Daniel's 70th week and last for a literal 3 years and six months. The little (11th) horn is the Antichrist.
• Against Heresies 5.26 - The Roman Empire will first be divided and then be dissolved. Ten kings will arise from what used to be the Roman empire. The Antichrist slays three of the kings and is then the eighth king among them. The kings will destroy Babylon then give the Babylonian kingdom to the beast and put the church to flight. After that they will be destroyed by the coming of the Lord. Daniel's horns are the same as the ten toes. The toes being part of iron and clay mean some will be active and strong while others weak and inactive and the kings will not agree with each other.
• Against Heresies 5.27 - In Matthew 24, the two men one taken and the other left does not refer to the rapture but second coming. They are taken to never ending fire.
• Against Heresies 5.30 - The Name of the Antichrist equals 666 if spelled out in Greek. Do not even try to find out the name until the ten kings arise. The Antichrist shall be from the tribe of Dan. That is why the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the apocalypse. The fourth kingdom seen by Daniel is Rome. Titan is one Greek word that comes out to 666. The rebuilt temple will be in Jerusalem.
• Against Heresies 5.35 - The resurrection of the Just takes place after the destruction of the Antichrist and all nations under his rule. Many believers will make it through the tribulation and replenish the earth. In the resurrection we will have fellowship and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings. The new heavens and earth are created and then the new Jerusalem descends. These are all literal things, and Christians who allegorize them are

immature Christians.
Tertullian 190-210 AD
• Marcion 3.25 - Millennial rain, resurrection, and the New Jerusalem are literal. In the resurrection we shall then be changed in a moment into the substance of angels
• Marcion 5.16 - The Anti-Christ will be a real man and set in a real temple.
• Treatise of the Soul 1.50 Enoch and Elias will come back to die. They are the two witnesses of Revelation.
Origen 230 AD
• Against Celsus 2:49 - Quotes Paul about the antichrist, as a literal person who works false miracles.
• Against Celsus 6:45 - There is a literal future Antichrist coming.
• Against Celsus 6:46 - The prophecies in 1 Thessalonians and Daniel are real prophesies about the end of the world. There will be a literal rebuilt Temple.
Commodianus: 240 AD
• 35 - Resurrection is at the end of the 6000 years.
• 41 - Antichrist notes
• 43 - End of the age
• 44 - The first resurrection. those who were not martyred under the antichrist will marry and have children during the 1000 years. no rains, snow, cold during the 1000yrs.
• 80 - Resurrection of the body will be when six thousand years are completed, and after the 1000 years when the world has come to an end.
Lactantius 285 AD
• Divine Institutes 7:14 – 6000yrs till millennium. (Some do not think Book 7 was really written by Lactantius.)
• Divine Institutes 7:16-17 – end times… very good…
• Divine Institutes 7:19 – 1st paragraph anti-Christ 4 battles??
• Divine Institutes 7:25 – 6000yrs, end of days is after the fall of Rome. The Sibyls agree.
• Divine Institutes 7:26 – After 100yrs (7000yrs) at battle of Gog the sun stands still for 3 days. Righteous hid in the mountains then come out, all evil is gone. No more nations. 7 years the woods are untouched. Burn arms of the nations.
• Epitome of Divine Institutes 71 – the last times: - very good…
• Epitome of Divine Institutes 72 – literal 1000yr reign.

• Fragment 8:
And what am I to say with respect to men, when the very elements themselves will disown their order? There will be earthquakes in every city, and plagues in every country; and monstrous thunderings and frightful lightnings will burn up both houses and fields. Storms of winds will disturb both sea and land excessively; and there will be unfruitfulness on the earth, and a roaring in the sea, and an intolerable agitation on account of souls and the destruction of men. There will be signs in the sun, and signs in the moon, deflections in the stars, distresses of nations, intemperateness in the atmosphere, discharges of hail upon the face of the earth, winters of excessive severity, different frosts, inexorable scorching winds, unexpected thunderings, unlooked-for conflagrations; and in general, lamentation and mourning in the whole earth, without consolation. For, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." By reason of the agitation and confusion of all these, the Lord of the universe cries in the Gospel, saying, "Take heed that ye be not deceived; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet by and by." Let us observe the word of the Savior, how He always admonished us with a view to our security: "Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ."
Victorinus 240 AD
• Commentary on Revelation 2 - Allow fornication on a "pretext for Mercy," the name written on the white stone is "Christian" granting "unlawful peace" over new forms of Prophecy.
• Commentary on Revelation 4 - Rainbow above god's head is red and blue symbolize the judgments of water and fire. 24 elders are the 12 Apostles and 12 Patriarchs.
• Commentary on Revelation 6 - Heaven withdrawing like a scroll is the church taken away.
• Commentary on Revelation 7 - Angel ascending is Elijah. 7 angels (Shepards) are attack the antichrists kingdom. Babylon is the ruined Roman kingdom. Do not look to the order of Revelation, the vials and trumpets are the same events.
• Commentary on Revelation 11 - great wings given to the woman are the two prophets and those who help her.
• Commentary on Revelation 13 - 2nd beast is the false prophet.
Already, though, there are signs of paganism creeping in with many heresies creeping up where pagan influences are combined with Christian worship. Clement of Rome began mistakenly applying the Old Testament Levitical priesthood practices to the Christian church. Ignatius said to obey the Pastor was to obey the Lord himself thereby

elevating the Pastor or Bishop, as they were called to a Nicolaitan (a separate priesthood, literally ‘victory over the laity’) status. We’ll mention that later. Tertullian called the Pastor the supreme Priest. These false teachings which go against the clear instructions of the Apostles were inserted because of the belief that since God sent Jesus and Jesus chose the Apostles that anyone they worked with was equally as authoritative, which, once the Bible was complete, put them in direct conflict with the final authority of the scriptures. This is amazing in that Tertullian even admitted that the original letters of the apostles were still being read in the churches to which they were sent in his day around 200.
Trajan annexed Arabia in 107 and from 113 to 117 he fought a war with Parthia, an empire east of the Roman provinces in Palestine that caused much trouble for Rome. Parthia was the most enduring empire of the ancient Near East and the arch-enemy of Rome, checking Rome’s eastern advance toward Alexander’s conquest of present day Afghanistan and India. Nomads called “Parni” settled and rose to power in present day Iran in the late third century BC and rose to great power under their king, Mithradates the Great, 171BC – 138BC, and eventually ruled must of western South Asia, including the area of present day Iran, Iraq, eastern Turkey, Armenia, and many republics south of Russia. They were fierce warriors known for the “Parthian Shot” which was the action of turning completely around on one’s horse to fire a bowshot behind. Their own writing is lost and we only know them from the writings of the Romans, the Greeks, and the Jews. The empire was defeated in the 200’s AD by the Persian Sassanid dynasty. There is also some information written by the Chinese about them as they were at the end of what was known as “The Silk Road” which was the long trading route that went from the Roman empire to the Chinese empire. Some sources even indicate that Roman soldiers at some point did fight skirmishes with Chinese.
In The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon described Trajan's rapid advance into Parthian regions. The "degenerate Parthians...fled before his arms. He descended the River Tigris in triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf." Aboard his flagship, Trajan celebrated a mission accomplished. According to Gibbon, "the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria were reduced into the state of provinces." To put a local face on the occupation, a Parthian favored by Rome was installed in power in Ctesiphon. Trajan was "the first, as he was the last of the Roman generals" to sail the Persian Gulf. Overconfident, Trajan was shocked to visit Babylon and find the ancient city in revolt.

With the aid of former officers of the Parthian Empire, insurgents attacked Roman troops throughout the country. The insurrectionists included the local Jewish population, which rose with Jews throughout the eastern Roman Empire in a bloody uprising. Trajan tried to put down the revolt but died in 117 before order was restored. Hadrian, Trajan's lieutenant and successor, immediately withdrew Rome's peerless yet overstretched legions. Without the protection of the Western army, Rome's man in Ctesiphon was pushed out and the old order returned. Trajan's invasion was a costly failure.


The only thing man learns from history is that man never learns from history. There had been a war with Parthia previously, under Nero’s reign, that ended successfully, between 56 and 63AD. But before that, in 53BC, the great Roman general, Crassus, had been beaten, beheaded, and had molten gold poured into his mouth by the Parthian general, Surena, at the distastrous battle of Carrhae.

Hadrian ruled Rome from 117 to 138. He made peace with Parthia and spent most of his reign traveling throughout his empire. On a visit to Britain in 122, the province where the famous Briton Celt queen Boadicea had caused so much trouble in her revolt of 61AD, he oversaw the construction of the wall that bears his name. Hadrian also brutally suppress-ed the last great Jewish revolt under Bar Kochba between 132 and 135. This finally dispersed the Jewish people around the world for nearly 2,000 years.

After Hadrian reigned, Antoninus Pius, had a relatively quiet reign from 138 to 161, outside of a few minor revolts in Britain, Mauretania, and Egypt.

There were ten great persecutions of Christians during the first 300 years of the era referred to on calendars as AD or Anno Domini, the Year of Our Lord. Eusebius, a Christian historian and sycophant of the Emperor Constantine, wrote extensively about them. Most historians agree that they could be listed by the emperor who instituted the persecutions. They were, as listed by Eusebius;

1. Nero (Roman emperor AD 54–68), persecution stirred up in AD 64. In this persecution was the Apostle Paul killed and the apostle Peter crucified in Rome. This first persecution ceased under Vespasian (reigned AD 69–79).
2. Domitian (Roman emperor AD 81–96). John, the apostle and evangelist was exiled to Patmos during this persecution. After the death of Domitian, John was released and came to Ephesus in AD 97, where he wrote his Gospel and where he lived until the time of Trajan.
3. Trajan (Roman emperor AD 98–117). Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch suffered in this persecution.
4. Marcus Aurelius, his other name being Antoninus Verus (Roman emperor AD 161–180). Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, and the Christian martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, two cities in France, were martyred in this persecution.
5. Septimius Severus (Roman emperor AD 193–211). This persecution extended to northern Africa, which was a Roman province.
6. Maximinus, Gaius Julius Verus (Roman emperor AD 235–238).
7. Decius (Roman emperor AD 249–251). In this persecution was Fabian martyred; Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, forced into exile; and Origen imprisoned and tortured.
8. Valerian (Roman emperor AD 253–260).

9. 163
Aurelian (Roman emperor AD 270–275).
10. Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, reigned AD 284–305) and Maximian (reigned AD 285–305) governed as emperors together. Diocletian began his furious persecution against the Christians in 303. The emperor ordered the doors of the Christian church at Nicomedia, the capital, to be barred, and then burnt the edifice with 600 Christians within. Many edicts were issued by him against Christians. Churches were demolished, Christian books were seized and burnt, Christians were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed. The persecution brought a considerable number of martyrs, and it continued until 313.

Crucifixion, burning at the stake, being eaten and torn apart by wild animals sometimes after being sewn up in the skins of other animals, being crushed, and also set fire like human torches so that their screams of agony could entertain dinner goers at some feast were the lot of many of these martyrs. While these pagan Roman persecutions never equaled the multitudes murdered by the Roman church of the Dark Ages in its vast persecutions of so-called heretical sects, there were hundreds of thousands killed, ten thousand under Trajan alone, with beheading and the stake being commonplace. John Foxe in his “Book of Martyrs” records this account of martyrdom under the Emperor Severus;

“Perpetua, a married lady, of about twenty-two years. Those who suffered with her were, Felicitas, a married lady, big with child at the time of her being apprehended, and Revocatus, catechumen of Carthage, and a slave. The names of the other prisoners, destined to suffer upon this occasion, were Saturninus, Secundulus, and Satur. On the day appointed for their execution, they were led to the amphitheater. Satur, Saturninus, and Revocatus were ordered to run the gauntlet between the hunters, or such as had the care of the wild beasts. The hunters being drawn up in two ranks, they ran between, and were severely lashed as they passed. Felicitas and Perpetua were stripped, in order to be thrown to a mad bull, which made his first attack upon Perpetua, and stunned her; he then darted at Felicitas, and gored her dreadfully; but not killing them, the executioner did that office with a sword. Revocatus and Satur were destroyed by wild beasts; Saturninus was beheaded; and Secundulus died in prison. These executions were in the 205, on the eighth day of March.”

Being a martyr did not guarantee that a believer, particularly a scholar, was free from error or heresy. Just as today, fame as a Christian celebrity does not exclude someone from being deceived and every ordinary, commonplace believer must search out the scriptures and compare what is said by those in authority because the scripture, not a human authority, is the believer’s final authority in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine. To believe otherwise makes one susceptible to the workings of a cult. So, it is with the famous early church leader and scholar, Origen. Origen’s father, Leonidas, was


beheaded in 201 and Origen himself became the head of a school in Alexandria, Egypt that attempted to fuse, as Philo did with Judaism, Greek philosophy with Christianity. It was very popular, according to Livingstone’s ‘Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church’, with the cultured classes, leaving Christianity’s early days as a religion that appealed to the common man. These pagan Christian thinkers were essentially what are called in philosophy Platonists explaining Christian doctrine according to categories and using words defined by the Greek philosopher, Plato, and according to Newman’s ‘ Manual of Church History’, were greatly indebted to Philo.

George Park Fisher, in the “History of Christian Doctrine”, makes this statement;
“It was at Alexandria, the seat of all science, that philosophical theology first acquired a firm footing. The union of philosophy and theology, of which we see the beginnings in the Apologists, was there consummated. Catechetical instruction, when cultivated and inquisitive heathen converts were to be taught, necessarily assumed a new form. The school for catechumens developed itself into a school for the training of the clergy. The Alexandrian teachers met the educated heathen on their own ground. Instead of pouring out invectives, after the manner of Tertullian, against the Greek philosophers, they recognized in the teachings of the Greek sages materials which Christian teachers might accept and assimilate.”

This growing love of philosophy was in direct contradiction to the scriptures’ Colossians 2:8 (“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”) where the only time the Greek and Latin word Philosophia is used in the New Testament. An additional warning regarding false science is given in both the English and Old Latin Bibles in 1 Timothy 6:20;

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” King James Bible.

“O Timothee, depositum custodi, deuitane profanas vocum nouitates, oppositiones falsi nominis scientae.” Hetzenauer’s 1906 translation of the Old Latin.

In Philip Schaff’s monumental work, “History of the Christian Church”, which is available free online, he says about this school in Alexandria and Origen’s involvement;

“From this catechetical school proceeded a peculiar theology, the most learned and genial representatives of which were Clement and Origen. This theology is, on the one hand, a regenerated Christian form of the Alexandrian Jewish religious philosophy of Philo..”

In the 1990 edition of the New Standard Encyclopedia, we have the secular version of this situation;


“Alexandrian school, a name given to various groups of persons engaged in artistic and intellectual activities in Alexandria, Egypt, during the Hellenistic and Roman eras…The blending of western and eastern knowledge and thought was the distinguishing feature of the schools…Literature of the Alexandrian school was based on scholarship rather than originality. The writers working in the Museum and Library catalogued, analyzed and edited more than they wrote.

As the Christian Era began, the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, combining Jewish religious ideas with Greek philosophy, emphasized the mystical quality of man’s relationship to
God. Philo influenced two late second century Greek fathers of the church, Clement of Alexandria and his pupil, Origen. These two in turn headed Alexandria’s catechetical (Christian religious) school, where both Christian and pagan (Greek) writings were studied and where the philosophy later known as Neoplatonism evolved…although Neoplatonism was a pagan philosophy and Origen, after his death, was disowned by the church as a heretic, much of the mysticism of the Alexandrian school of theology was absorbed into Christian thinking.”

To sum up the disdain the Christian who loved the Bible had for the Alexandrian brand of mixing pagan philosophy with Christianity, Tertullian said, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” cited by F.F. Bruce in his “Canon of Scripture”. Origen became the headmaster of the school as still teenager, apparently 18 years old, and immediately threw himself into Greek philosophy. He also was very “eccentric” and even castrated himself in a perverted interpretation of Matthew 19:12 hoping to avoid future temptation. He died resulting from injuries received in the Decian persecution after being tortured in 249AD. He wrote so copiously that he left 6,000 volumes of work, quoting the scriptures numerous times and even quoting the same verse differently several times. Among his odd beliefs were that all would eventually be saved after a time in Hell, even Satan himself. As strange as this may seem, Origen was one of a handful of teachers who had the most influence on Christian thinkers throughout the ages. Even today, his method of allegorical interpretation and his admixture of the scripture and philosophy is preferred and praised by many Christian scholars.

Origen influenced Bible translations by taking several post-resurrection copies of the Hebrew scriptures, including the non-canonical Old Testament apocrypha which had been rejected by the Jews themselves as being inspired, that had been translated to Greek and laying them out side by side, and composing his own. This version of the Hebrew manuscripts translated into Greek became known as the Septuagint after a legend that an Egyptian king had brought Hebrew elders to Egypt to translate the sacred works into Greek for his own Jewish population, which, as at Alexandria, had become Hellenized. Many Bibles today use Origen’s Septuagint through such manuscripts as the Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus to translate the Old Testament rather than the Hebrew manuscripts that Jesus and the apostles quoted. For instance, Jesus refers to such Hebrew grammatical terms as “jot” and “tittle” which would not be found in the Greek language in Matthew 5:18 and brackets the Jewish scriptures between Genesis and


2 Chronicles in Matthew 23:35 which is the order the Hebrew Bible was written with 2 Chronicles as the last book, having no apocrypha. The apocrypha was rejected for many reasons by the Jews; none were written in Hebrew, they propose statements in contradiction to the rest of the scripture, and contradict themselves as in the three separate deaths of Antiochus Epiphanes, among other inconsistencies. Even though these books are in the manuscripts that many Bibles are translated from, the apocrypha is usually excluded today.

The main evidence for the existence of a BC Septuagint is a document called “The Letter of Aristeas”. This letter can be read free online, and can be examined closely. It is supposed to detail the way that the Egyptian king went about having the Old Testament translated into Greek. However, many consider this to be a fraud, possibly perpetuated by Philo himself, as it contains many factual errors and could not have been written by the person who is given credit for writing it. To not belabor the point for this class, the head librarian of the great library who supposedly oversaw the project did not serve under the king in question. There are many other issues that make many scholars consider this letter a fraud, although you will find just as many who consider it to be perfectly legitimate. Go, and make your own decisions. With regard to the Septuagint itself, it is believed by some to be the efforts of several Christian era church leaders to rewrite the citations in the New Testament of the Old Testament back into the Old Testament itself to attain some type of uniformity that suited them. Many times in the New Testament the writers simply paraphrase Old Testament verses. Remember, to the Roman mind, this is unacceptable. Unity and uniformity are the hallmarks of Roman thinking. However, this, too, is a contentious idea but that is part of the fun of studying history. It is a great experience in detective work and often investigators studying the same material come to different conclusions.

I will save the subject of the much vaunted Dead Sea Scrolls for the fascinating era of scholarship in which they were discovered, just in case you are curious.

As we have noted before, Marcus Aurelius ruled between 162 and 165. From 162 to 165 a great victory against the Parthians by Rome ended in the plague infesting the returning troops and vast areas of the empire being depopulated in the death that followed. Aurelius spent a great deal of time in the field quelling revolts along the Danube and eventually, accompanied by his son, Commodus, died, perhaps near present day Vienna, Austria.

Commodus’ reign from 180 to 192 was a murderous nightmare by secular standards although he was much more tolerant of Christians than was his father. He was finally assassinated by his Praetorian Guard. There was a great struggle for the throne until Septimus Severus took control in 193. He had to fight a war with Parthian ruler Vologases IV after which he put down revolts in Britain, where he died, possibly at present day York.


Moving forward we find the Emperor Alexander Severus from 222 to 235, who fought against the founder of the new Persian Sassanid Empire, Ardashir I. The emperor was murdered by the tribune, Maxminus, noted as a giant of a man, illiterate and thuggish. Chaos in the empire ensued. Wars, revolts, and the rise of enemies against Rome were beginning to steamroll. There were incursions by barbarians, notably Goths and Franks. There were Gothic pirates in the Black Sea.

Finally, the Empire achieved a sort of revival in 268 until about 305 with many revolts successfully quelled and building projects such as the reconstruction of the walls of
Rome going forward. A revolt in Egypt was brutally put down. The emperors under this revival were Illyrian, from an area compromising the western Balkan mountains of Northern Greece represented by the Halstatt culture early on that I had mentioned in a previous class. We might call these Albanian emperors due to the proximity of their origin with present day Albania although this was only part of the territory called Illyria.

In 305 to 306 there was confusion in the imperial succession and a civil war, the result of which would affect future history in a big way with the rise of one of the most important emperors in the history of the world, named Constantine.

But, briefly let us look at events in Antioch, Syria. Antioch was the city to which Hannibal had first fled from the Romans after his final defeat in 195BC, according to Durant. Antioch, naturally, was where the first Christian manuscripts would be composed, to spread all over the Greek speaking and Latin speaking world. The Old Latin Bible was thought to be first transcribed there, as were the documents that formed the basis of the Syriac Peshitta. Although some disagree, most of the writers I have read referred to the early church leaders from Antioch as “hyper-literalists”. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has this to say;

“Antioch gave its name to a certain school of Christian thought, distinguished by literal interpretation of the Scriptures…” in contrast to the allegorical interpretation which found its greatest expression at Alexandria.

The authority of the Bible we have today can be underscored by many of the manuscripts written from or around Antioch and written in Syriac. For instance, an early church leader named Tatian, wrote a harmonization of the gospels called ‘The Diatessaron”, a harmonization of the gospels with regard to the timing of events, in the middle of the second century. Such verses as Luke 2:33;

“And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.”

are reinforced by the fact that they could not have been later glosses or additions as they were quoted and known early on in both the earliest versions of the Bible and in the writings of these early church leaders. Such “controversial” passages as Mark 16:9-20 and 1 John 5:7,8 are found in the Old Latin and are quoted or alluded to in every century


of the early Christian era by teachers and preachers. Although faith does not require us nor permit us to search for relics or affirmation from historical sources to bolster it or to justify it or it is not faith, these facts of evidence, even though hotly contested by Catholic scholars and Protestant scholars like Norman Geisler who received their highest degrees from Catholic institutions of higher learning, reveal the clear line of true Christian manuscripts ascending from Jerusalem to Antioch and spreading from east to west over the entire Roman Empire. Modern liberal scholars label this the Byzantine text and it is the foundation for our Bible represented by all but around 40-44 of the 5200 available manuscripts in Greek. For instance, of the 620 uncial (large script like capital letters) manuscripts that contain the gospel of Mark, only 2 manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, closely associated with Alexandria and Rome, do not contain this ending and it is quoted and alluded to by early church leaders and versions in every century of the early Christian era.

The early church had to deal with a great many heresies as evidenced by Paul’s warnings and the warnings given by the Lord Jesus Christ in the first chapters of Revelation to the churches. One of the most important of these was Gnosticism, the continuing tradition of pagan mystery cults, called mystery because of the secret method of initiation, secret rites, and secret knowledge they supposedly imparted. We have such groups today, under various guises and names, with secret meetings, secret handshakes, and special instructions given only to the initiate. The church leader, Irenaeus, described many of these Gnostic groups in his work, Against Heresies. Modern gnosis sects are ultimately occultic with only the members of the group having access to arcana or esoteric knowledge which only a select few can either understand or even should have access to but these modern groups often have a similarity in name only to the early Christian Gnostic groups. The early groups had more in common with the Babylonian and Greek mystery religions. More modern Gnostic groups of modern times are often referred to as “New Age”, a hybrid mix of Christian, Hindu, and Pagan religious beliefs that ultimately are anti-scriptural and give man, and therefore Satan, pre-eminence over God, the creator. Unfortunately, the modern Gnostic groups, whether nominally Christian or deliberately occultic and anti-Christian have had a great negative influence on the modern church and have to be fought just as hard as the early Christians did such as Irenaeus who had to combat them. Their influence even in certain modern Bible translations such as one that in Matthew 11:3 which probably unintentionally refers to the doctrine of “The Coming One”, most clearly enunciated by the New Age priestess, Alice Bailey, or the modern Bible that calls God, “the God of green hope”, a pagan, druidic reference with Lucifer commonly appearing as “the green one” according to Biedermann’s ‘Dictionary of Symbolism’, in Romans 15:13, or one Bible which ignorantly mixes Lucifer/Satan’s identity with that of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 22:16 which lines it up with Luciferian Madame Blavatsky’s statement that Lucifer is Christ in her landmark work, The Secret Doctrine.

Other early heresies were Sabellianism which basically implied that Jesus was only divine without human qualities and could not have actually suffered and died. Docetism,


similarly, implied that Jesus’ humanity was only an illusion. Monophysitism separated the two natures of Christ that joined in one body in contrast to the Bible’s teaching that Christ was completely human and completely God, as if there was some kind of multiple personality disorder going on there. Of the many other heresies Arianism had the most impact then and today with its basic concept that the Lord Jesus Christ was begotten as a god, a lesser god, prepared specially for man’s salvation. This had a large following early on, and is present today in certain cultic Christian sects. It’s credibility is found underscored in a modern Bible version that calls Jesus not the only begotten Son in John 1:18, in reference to Psalm 2:7 which is quoted again in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5 but rather “the only begotten God”, which was said to be the preferred reading of John 1:18
by the Arians. Most of the early church fathers quote “only begotten Son” such as Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian with Clement of Alexandria, the head of that school, and, of course, Origen, quoting it as “only begotten God”. Origen even quoted it both ways. Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus also quote “only begotten God” in opposition to thousands of other manuscripts and versions.

Philip Schaff, in his monumental work, “The History of the Christian Church”, opens up his third volume in regard to the impact of the Emperor Constantine on the church of that time and all future history in this way, and I quote;

“THE last great imperial persecution of the Christians under Diocletian and Galerius, which was aimed at the entire uprooting of the new religion, ended with the edict of toleration of 311 and the tragical ruin of the persecutors. The edict of toleration was an involuntary and irresistible concession of the incurable impotence of heathenism and the indestructible power of Christianity. It left but a step to the downfall of the one and the supremacy of the other in the empire of the Caesars.
This great epoch is marked by the reign of Constantine I. He understood the signs of the times and acted accordingly. He was the man for the times, as the times were prepared for him by that Providence which controls both and fits them for each other. He placed himself at the head of true progress, while his nephew, Julian the Apostate, opposed it and was left behind. He was the chief instrument for raising the church from the low estate of oppression and persecution to well deserved honor and power. For this service a thankful posterity has given him the surname of the Great, to which he was entitled, though not by his moral character, yet doubtless by his military and administrative ability, his judicious policy, his appreciation and protection of Christianity, and the far-reaching consequences of his reign. His greatness was not indeed of the first, but of the second order, and is to be measured more by what he did than by what he was. To the Greek church, which honors him even as a canonized saint, he has the same significance as Charlemagne to the Latin.
Constantine, the first Christian Caesar, the founder of Constantinople and the Byzantine empire, and one of the most gifted, energetic, and successful of the Roman emperors, was the first representative of the imposing idea of a Christian theocracy, or of that system of policy which assumes all subjects to be Christians, connects civil and religious rights, and regards church and state as the two arms of one and the same divine


government on earth. This idea was more fully developed by his successors, it animated the whole middle age, and is yet working under various forms in these latest times; though it has never been fully realized, whether in the Byzantine, the German, or the Russian empire, the Roman church-state, the Calvinistic republic of Geneva, or the early Puritanic colonies of New England. At the same time, however, Constantine stands also as the type of an undiscriminating and harmful conjunction of Christianity with politics, of the holy symbol of peace with the horrors of war, of the spiritual interests of the kingdom of heaven with the earthly interests of the state.”

Not unlike the warning given by President Eisenhower at the end of his terms in office with regard to the military-industrial complex, we have here a warning about the age old union of church-state with regard to terrible deprivations, mass murder, and the crushing of man’s individual responsibility to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ without the hindrance of government in his or her religious belief and practices, the basis for our Freedom of Religion.

While the early Christians would not serve in the military, and when converted would leave the army, and if they stayed were often martyred for their faith and refusal to burn incense to the emperor, by 300 these beliefs had been relaxed enough that there were many Christians serving in the Roman army. Constantine, in the civil war prior to his succession to the throne, courted the loyalty of these Christians. On October 27, 312, in a battle fought against his rival, Maxentius, at a place called Saxa Rubra (Red Rocks) he claimed to have seen a flaming cross in the sky and was later told in a dream to put this cross, in reality an X signifying Christ, on the shields of his soldiers. The words, “in this sign conquer”, were supposedly with the flaming cross in the sky. Needless to say, he won the battle and won the love and admiration of his soldiers. Was Constantine really converted or was this merely a political ploy to gain the acceptance of his Christian soldiers and citizens who had suffered so much and were looking, like the Jews, for some military messiah to save them in this world, rather than in the next? We don’t know for sure but there is no evidence that Constantine ever made a profession of faith in Christ outside of the statements of his loyal propagandist, Eusebius, a respected Christian leader and historian whom I have quoted in previous classes. Durant does not believe that Constantine’s actions were any more than a “consummate stroke of political wisdom”.

He is later quoted as saying that it is the goddess Fortuna, Fortune or luck, that makes a man emperor in the ancient work, Historia Augusta. He would not be the first or the last leader of a great nation to exploit the religious sentiments of his people to gain approval for his actions. According to Durant, he also surrounded himself with pagan philosophers and scholars. His letters to Christians showed that he cared little for their theological differences and the war against heresies so prevalent in the early Christian church. His main and overarching concern, as a Roman, was that all Christians have unity even if it had to be enforced by Roman law. Obviously, having seen the failure of a great persecution in his lifetime to stamp out Christianity he chose a different tack to keep the Christians under control. Slowly, he began approving of Christianity officially and


eventually gave money to Christian congregations and began building magnificent church buildings in keeping with the Roman love of large buildings. He even sent his sons to Christian school and Eusebius and other leading Christians sang his praises as God’s triumph over paganism. In keeping with the apostasy prevailing in much of the early church not only had admonitions against serving in the military been relaxed but the early Christian abhorrence of striving to acquire personal wealth was gone from mainstream Christianity. Cyprian had even complained that his parishioners were mad about wealth in the previous century. Just as today, the Christian church was the wealthiest of all religious organizations.

The Donatist schism, which will be spoken of more in length in the next lesson, divided Chrsitianity with Donatus, bishop of Carthage, proclaiming that any bishop or pastor who had given up his copies of scripture to the “police” to be burned had forfeited his right to be a bishop and any baptism he performed was meaningless as were any ordinations of other Christian workers null and void. Another heresy was created by Arius, of course from a town near Alexandria, who claimed that Christ was not equal with God but the first of all created beings, the Logos. We may laugh at this “Mickey Mouse” theology today but we do have cults who view Christ as a lesser deity and Bible translations that call him “a begotten God”, which as I said earlier was a favorite verse rendering of the Arians, as Arius’ followers were called. The perjorative term, Arian, was eventually ascribed to almost any Christian group that did not follow in lockstep with the bishop of Rome’s pronouncements, but that is for later.

Constantine summoned all bishops or pastors to meet in 325 at Bithynian Nicea, for the first ever ecumenical council of the Christian church and provided all funds for their expense. Most of the bishops were from the Eastern provinces, though. The result of the Council of Nicea was that Arius became anathemized or cursed, his books ordered to be burnt, and he was exiled from the empire. Athanasius had championed the concept of the trinity and had won. Constantine had struck a great blow for the unity of the church and its molding into an arm of the state. Durant says that a new civilization had begun at the conclusion of this council and that the Middle Ages had begun. But, not being a Bible believer or even a Christian he was mistaken. The Dark Ages of history had begun, the resultant fall of political, pagan Rome in the west was ensured and its rebirth spiritually as the even more powerful in some ways, Roman Catholic Church, which ruled Europe with an iron fist for over a thousand years had commenced with its inquisitions, crusades, stake burnings, and king making. The famed scholar, Gibbon, in his epic work on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire agreed that Christianity in large part sealed the fall of Rome in the west. In 330 Constantine would turn his back on Rome and make his capital in the east at Constantinople, modern day Istanbul Turkey.

Early Christian authorities like Tertullian and Cyprian heralded the decline and fall of the ancient world but it was a painfully slow process which required an apostate church and a great plague to finish it off. Schaff puts it in these terms;


“…Christianity gradually supplanted the Graeco-Roman heathenism and became the established religion in the empire of the Caesars. Since that time the church and the state, though frequently jarring, have remained united in Europe, either on the hierarchical basis, with the temporal power under the tutelage of the spiritual, or on the caesaro-papal, with the spiritual power merged in the temporal; while in the United States of America, since the end of the eighteenth century, the two powers have stood peacefully but independently side by side. The church could now act upon the state; but so could the state act upon the church; and this mutual influence became a source of both profit and loss, blessing and curse, on either side.

The martyrs and confessors of the first three centuries, in their expectation of the impending end of the world and their desire for the speedy return of the Lord, had never once thought of such a thing as the great and sudden change, which meets us at the beginning of this period in the relation of the Roman state to the Christian church. Tertullian had even held the Christian profession to be irreconcilable with the office of a Roman emperor. Nevertheless, clergy and people very soon and very easily accommodated themselves to the new order of things, and recognized in it a reproduction of the theocratic constitution of the people of God under the ancient covenant. Save that the dissenting sects, who derived no benefit from this union, but were rather subject to persecution from the state and from the established Catholicism, the Donatists for an especial instance, protested against the intermeddling of the temporal power with religious concerns. The heathen, who now came over in a mass, had all along been accustomed to a union of politics with religion, of the imperial with the sacerdotal dignity. They could not imagine a state without some cultus, whatever might be its name. And as heathenism had outlived itself in the empire, and Judaism with its national exclusiveness and its stationary character was totally disqualified, Christianity must take the throne.”

However, in the spiritual darkness to come, there were bright lights blazing, for as Elijah was told when he lamented at how his nation had fallen;

“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” Romans 11:4 quoting 1 Kings 19:18.